Lupita D. Montoya
Research Associate
Environmental Engineering • Mortenson Center in Global Engineering

Office: SEEC S286A


  • Ph.D. Civil and Environmental Engineering, Stanford University
  • M.S. Mechanical Engineering (Thermosciences), Stanford University
  • B.S. Cum Laude, Engineering (Applied Mechanics), California State University, Northridge

Honors and Distinctions:

  • David M. Darrin ’40 Counseling Award, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (2009) to “a faculty member who has made unusual contributions to the personal counseling of students.”
  • First prize, (co-PI) third annual ARCHITECT magazine R+D Awards. for “Active Phytoremediation Wall System”, August 2009.
  • Rensselaer NSF-RAMP UP (ADVANCE) Career Campaign Award.
  • Yerby Postdoctoral Fellowship, Harvard School of Public Health.
  • Minority Postdoctoral Fellowship, University at Albany, S.U.N.Y.
  • National Consortium for Graduate Degrees for Minorities in Engineering and Science (GEM) Fellowship – Ph.D. component.
  • National Consortium for Graduate Degrees for Minorities in Engineering and Science (GEM) Fellowship – M.S. component.
  • Tau Beta Pi Engineering Honors Society.

Professional Affiliations:

  • American Association for Aerosol Research (A.A.A.R.)
  • International Society of Aerosols in Medicine (I.S.A.M.)
  • International Society of Indoor Air Quality and Climate (I.S.I.A.Q.)
  • American Society of Civil Engineers (A.S.C.E.)
  • American Society of Mechanical Engineers (A.S.M.E.)
  • American Society of Engineering Education (A.S.E.E.)
  • Society for Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science (S.A.C.N.A.S.)
  • Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (S.H.P.E.)

Health Effects of Aerosols

Dr. Montoya’s primary area of research is the study of indoor air quality and the health effects of aerosols (a.k.a. particulate matter). She is especially interested in elucidating the role that biological and physicochemical characteristics of various aerosols play in the development of disease and toxicity. One major thrust of this research is developing new models for the study of disease. In the case of allergenic aerosols, she focuses on the link to allergies and asthma. In this general area, she is also trying to elucidate the connection between the physico-chemical characteristics of various nanoparticles (e.g., TiO2, Al2O3, nanotubes) and possible toxicity and immune effects using in vitro models. This work is presently being funded by the NSF Nanotech Center at Rensselaer and in collaboration with researchers in the Biomedical Engineering department at Rensselaer and the Center for Immunology and Microbial Diseases at Albany Medical College.

Indoor Air Quality and Exposure

Present research in Dr. Montoya’s laboratory also includes the development of instrumentation and techniques to measure, model, and control common airborne pollutants in indoor environments and to assess human exposure to these agents. In this general area, she is working on the development and characterization of a personal aeroallergen sampler for children based on microtrap technology. This sampler is intended for applications in Public Health where large exposure studies are often in need of small, affordable and rugged instrumentation. Characterization of an area sampler is being completed and further development for a personal sampler will follow. Another research thrust includes the development of experimental and computational models to assess respiratory particle deposition using physiologically correct morphologies and unsteady flow models in humans. These model are intended both for the study of disease as well as for target delivery of therapeutics.


Another research area that Dr. Montoya intends to grow at CUB is sustainability. Part of her efforts thus far have been focused on developing a program in indoor air quality and affordable technologies for the developing world. So far, she has conducted most of this work within her design classes at Rensselaer and through independent projects with undergraduate students in various departments. She intends to continue this line of research and pursue further funding, particularly in the areas of air quality, energy, and affordable housing. In this general area, she is also focusing on developing technologies for “smart, green buildings” for industrialized countries. The focus of this project is the improvement of indoor air quality using active flow control methods while decreasing the energy burden of HVAC systems. In an additional collaboration with architects, this research team is looking at the use of hydroponics for improving indoor air quality. For this work, this team recently (August 2009) received the First Prize in the third annual ARCHITECT magazine R+D Awards (“Active Phytoremediation Wall System”).